Long, long ago – for about 15 minutes – Steven Seagal was a big deal in Hollywood. His movie “Under Siege” made a lot of money. But that was pretty much it. Next came a string of big-budget flops followed by a lengthy and ongoing twilight spent in straight-to-video purgatory.
Indeed, Seagal has sunk so low that a few years ago he starred in an awful reality show named “Steven Seagal: Lawman,” which followed the bloated actor around Louisiana as he helped cops solve crimes. Seagal claimed to be some kind of reserve policeman. In one episode he drove a tank into the wall of a man’s home who was suspected of raising roosters for cockfighting. Soon afterward a member of Seagal’s SWAT team shot the fellow’s dog. A lawsuit ensued.
That wasn’t Seagal’s only bout of legal trouble in recent years. Shortly before the tank incident, he was accused of tricking female personal assistants into becoming his “sex slaves”, while last year a former business partner with known mafia connections took Seagal to court for not paying his debts. All of this scandal and absurdity tends to overshadow Seagal’s claim to be the reincarnation of Chungdrag Dorje, a 17th-century “treasure revealer” of Tibetan Buddhism – much to his frustration, I am sure.
Given all his trouble at home, it’s not difficult to understand why Seagal has been spending so much time in Russia lately. Back in March he opened a martial arts center in Moscow with Vladimir Putin himself. Putin of course is a big judo fan, and Seagal used to be a martial arts instructor. Watching the ceremony on TV, however, I was struck by Seagal’s fake goatee. It was on his face when he was with Putin, but subsequently vanished when he…
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